A school-wide questionnaire at Western Washington University (WWU) asked the community “How do we make sure that in future years ‘we are not as white as we are today?’”
The question, released through the communications and marketing department's daily newsletter Western Today, comes on the heels of admonishments given in multiple convocation addresses by WWU President Bruce Shepard for the university’s “failure” to be less white.
“Every year, from this stage and at this time, you have heard me say that, if in decades ahead, we are as white as we are today, we will have failed as university,” Shepard said in the 2012 speech.
And in a recent blog post on WWU’s website, Shepard echoes these sentiments, saying those who do not agree “have not thought through the implications of what is ahead for us or, more perniciously, assume we can continue unchanged.”
“In the decades ahead, should we be as white as we are today, we will be relentlessly driven toward mediocrity; or, become a sad shadow of our current self,” he wrote.
Let’s do a little thought experiment.
Replace the word “white” with “black”.
Imagine what the national response would be if one of those revised statements came out of President Shepard’s mouth – or appeared in a university publication – even one time.
Those responsible for the statements would be pilloried in the media, fired by the university, and investigated by state and federal authorities who would presume that they had at some point implemented the discriminatory intent they communicated.
But communicate the intent to exclude white students based upon their race – to create a hostile environment which would simultaneously drive white students away while at the same time making the campus more attractive to approved minorities – is not considered to be a big deal. After all, whites are evil and therefore need to be discriminated against, even if the Fourteenth Amendment and civil rights laws make such discrimination illegal.
Consider these statistics.
Now before he lets himself get blinded by the white, President Shepard should ask himself something. Why aren’t people of color even interested in attending his school? Anyone with a 20 ACT/1450 SAT and a 3.0 GPA has strong odds on getting in.
They admit over 75% of their applicants. If Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians even wanted to go to Western Washington, they’d only have to stay awake during the college prep track at an adequate public high school to get in. How do I break it to the man gently? This place isn’t Harvard.
He could have any student body he chose to admit -if they were willing to come. Maybe these prized minority students are staying away because they are smart enough to.
By the way, there could be other reasons why Western Washington University is so white? Well, maybe that has something to do with the fact that the state of Washington is nearly 80% white – a demographic reality that WWU reflects by having a student body that is also nearly 80% white. Moreover, WWU is not a major national university, or even the most prominent public college or university in the state, and it is therefore draws from a more regional pool of potential students – which, given that both the city and county in which WWU is located are over 88% white, could lead one to conclude that minorities are over-represented at the school if one were to play the sort of bean-counting games that government agencies so often use in employment cases when a disparity between a business's employee demographics and the demographics of the local community.
Surely there must be some reason that the students that Shepard desires aren’t coming to WWU. After all, why wouldn’t they want to spend four years at a third-rate public university located in a lily-white community where it is gray and rainy much of the school year?
Now please understand that I am not saying that diversity is a bad thing. Diversity, when it occurs naturally and is based upon criteria that actually matter (such as diversity of views, rather than diversity of skin tone or sex partners), is a good thing and beneficial to the education of all students. But hyper-concern with diversity based upon race, with a goal of increasing the representatives of favored groups so that they constitute a disproportionately large percentage of the student body, is not only not healthy but is also a recipe for making the university truly irrelevant as an institution of higher education.
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